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Air Issues in Chicago's Pilsen Neighborhood

See also Pilsen Area Soil Assessment where U.S. EPA’s November 2014 report on lead contamination in soils in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood is now available.

EPA continues to be concerned about air pollution in the Pilsen neighborhood. In January 2013, EPA and the State of Illinois signed a consent decree with H. Kramer and Co. to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and state air pollution violations at the firm's brass smelting foundry in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Update - December 2014

Although the January 2013 consent decree did not require ambient air monitors in the community, it did require “parametric monitoring” to ensure that the lead pollution control devices--the pulse-jet baghouse filters and High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters--operate effectively. This parametric monitoring continuously measures the pressure upstream and downstream of the baghouses and HEPA filters to ensure that leaks do not occur. If the measurements exceed manufacturer’s guarantees, an alarm sounds, and H. Kramer must immediately replace the broken filters to prevent leakage.

Both filter systems were in place and operating by August 12, 2013.  In addition to the continuous monitoring, H. Kramer must ensure efficient operation of the control system, maintain appropriate records and keep track of several additional criteria.

Prior to the January 2013 two ambient lead monitors were operating near the H. Kramer facility at the Perez Elementary School and Juarez High School. The Juarez High School monitor was removed by the Illinois EPA, but the Perez monitor remains operating. The average lead concentrations at the Perez Elementary lead monitor for 2014 was only 0.02 micrograms per cubic meter, or only 3 percent of the highest concentration, which was measured in December 2010—0.580 micrograms per cubic meter.

Monthly average lead data from Perez Elementary School ambient air monitor 2010-2014 (PDF) (2 pp, 192 K) November 2014

The monthly average lead values have been below the NAAQS since the beginning of 2011.


You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Street map showing the locations of H. Kramer, Fisk Generating Station and the nearby ambient air monitoring stations.

Street map showing the locations of H. Kramer, Fisk Generating Station and the nearby ambient air monitoring stations. (Click to enlarge)

Air Quality System (AQS) Ambient Monitoring Data

More information about air emissions

Nonattainment Designation for the 2008 Lead National Ambient Air Quality Standard

Enforcement History

From the Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) Database

Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data

Environmental Justice (EJ View Mapper) View


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